At the Royal College of Music, Frank Bridge studied violin and composition, graduating in 1904. As a talented violist and conductor, Bridge rapidly developed a reputation. He played with the Joachim Quartet in 1906, and through 1915 he was a member of the English String Quartet. At the Savoy Theatre and Covent Garden, he performed several operas, and he called Bridge as his assistant when Sir Thomas Beecham assembled his New Symphony Orchestra in 1906. Bridge often befriended Sir Henry Wood and succeeded him as conductor at Queen's Hall regularly. Bridge wrote more chamber music and songs during this time. The French Impressionists strongly inspired his few orchestral compositions of the time; The Sea was the first to become part of the regular repertoire. For Bridge, a widely known pacifist, World War I was a painful moment. In such works as the Cello Sonata in D minor and the Quartet No. 2 in G minor, one can sense more dissonance and gloom creeping in.
Bridge's next primary task, following many years of near-silence, marked a significant change of theme. The Piano Sonata was published in 1917 in memory of Ernest Farrar, a musician who was killed in battle in France. One detects noticeably more dissonance in it, sudden shifts in tone and pace, and a more linear and violent tone. In works including the third and fourth string quartets, this stylistic development persisted. Bridge spent more of his efforts on private teaching in his later years. Benjamin Britten, an eleven-year-old prodigy when Bridge encountered him in 1924, was his best-known student. In the Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge, based on the second of the latter's Three Idylls for String Quartet, Britten held a deep love for his coach and paid homage to him. Britten was also partially liable for the resulting curiosity in the music of Bridge. A lovely opera, The Christmas Rose, and other central chamber and orchestral pieces were among Bridge's later compositions.
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